Bail is the temporary release from custody after the arrest and interview of a person who is still being investigated by the Police. If a person is not charged with a crime immediately after their arrest and interview, but investigation is continuing, the Police have the following options:-
Remand you in custody
Although there is a presumption that someone will be granted bail or released under investigation (see below) this is unlikely to be granted if you are charged with a very serious offence, or have previous convictions for a serious offence, a history of breaching bail, or officers think there is a risk that further crimes would be committed while on bail. In those circumstances, it is likely that bail would not be granted, and you would be remanded in custody.
Release you on bail, with or without conditions
The Police will tell you which Police station to return to, and when. If you fail to comply, you risk being arrested and brought before a court, which might then decide to remand you in custody even though the threshold test for doing so was not previously met. Bail is often granted with conditions such as a curfew, residing in a certain place, surrendering a passport, regular reporting to a Police station, or not interfering with witnesses.
Release you without bail, pending further investigation
This is known as being released under investigation (RUI). This is now a common position for the Police to take. Prior to April 2017, most suspects would be granted bail (conditional or unconditional) and given a date for returning to the Police station. It is now more common for a person to be RUI, which would not involve the same obligations as being on bail, although you would still be told that “inappropriate contact with anyone linked to your case, either directly or indirectly, through a third-party or social media, may constitute a criminal offence.”
The option of RUI avoids practical difficulties for both the suspect and the Police of having to comply with sometimes onerous bail conditions. From the Police point of view, it means that they do not need to charge, or apply for extensions of bail, after a 28 period. Being RUI is therefore very similar to being on unconditional bail but without the same obligations, and without Police contact. Whilst this can seem a real advantage from a suspect point of view, it also means that it removes any real pressure on the Police and Crown Prosecution Service to conclude their investigations promptly, and to reach a charging decision. It removes timeframes, and often means that someone can be left for a significant period of time waiting to hear from the Police with a decision.
Although most cases are now dealt with by way of RUI, if you are remanded in custody, or are granted bail with very onerous conditions, you or your solicitor can apply to the Magistrate’s Court. They have the power to grant bail or vary the conditions.
Written by Katie Costello and Holly Paterson